For the first few minutes, it looked like the second episode of Kid Nation was going to be a public-relations victory for animal-rights activists and compassionate vegetarians the world over. The "old pioneer journal" (I suspect it's actually a plant from the producers, but don't tell the kids) suggested that their chickens might be something more than egg-producers–they might be worth eating.
At first, it appears that the majority of the children–ages 8-15, mind you–are horrified at the idea of killing an animal in order to eat it, but the allure of yummy chicken soup wins the day, even after button-cute declarations like "Chicken's my favorite food, but I don't want to watch it die!" are made. 15-year-old tough guy Greg explains that he has experience killing animals for food, and sure enough, he seems expert at cutting off heads (an on-screen warning preceded it), plucking, and preparing a chicken for dinner. All thoughts of cruelty leave most heads–except chubby little 9-year-old Emilie, who claims to "break wild mustangs" at home–once dinner is served. "Everybody needs meat!" says one.
This week's reward challenge was a little more exciting than last week's, though I'd still rather see these kids take on problems that aren't so manufactured (more chicken killing and arguing, fewer games). The big surprise reward was a waterslide that would sit in the middle of downtown, but since all teams didn't complete the task–laying water pipe–they didn't win it. But they were all nice to the losers, which certainly wouldn't have happened on Grown-Up Nation.
The gold star, in a storm of controversy, went to plucky talker Michael rather than zitty tough guy Greg, who did all of the work this week. And Greg is pissed. And vows revenge. Part of me still wishes that would leading to a fistfight or even a full-on duel, but two weeks in, I already know Kid Nation is too kind-hearted for that.
-- That dang host keeps saying that the gold star "is worth its weight in gold!" Yes, we get it. It's made out of gold.
-- None of the kids even considered going home this week, even Emilie, who threatened to if the chickens were killed. My sense is that very few of these kids will leave.
-- More lessons in capitalism: "We're being paid two nickels for the work we're doing; it's kind of discouraging." It reminded me of something I saw a nurse's aide say on the news the other night: "I make $8.50 an hour. It's disrespectful." A little more true in the latter case, of course.